The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will reopen on Monday, June 22, in accordance with Phase Two guidance for COVID-19 as issued by the District of Columbia Mayor’s Office and Health Department.

Following Phase Two protocols, entry into the National Shrine will be limited to 100 persons at a time. Mass, Confession, and operations schedules will also be adjusted.

“While we anxiously await the day when we can more fully open the doors of Mary’s Shrine, we are grateful to take this first step in reopening America’s Catholic Church,” said Msgr. Walter R. Rossi, rector of the National Shrine. “The priests, religious and staff of the Basilica are eager to welcome the faithful back and ask for prayers and patience as everyone adjusts to this ‘new normal’ in these continued, unprecedented times of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Because of government quarantine regulations enacted to slow the spread of COVID-19, the National Shrine closed to the public March 17 in what is believed to be the first time in its nearly 100-year history for a non-weather-related event. During the more than three-month closure, the National Shrine was intensively cleaned and sanitized and enhanced protocols were put in place in preparation for the safe return.

Under the Phase Two opening the National Shrine will be open to the public each day from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. All visitors must enter through the front lower level East Entrance (Gift Shop side facing Michigan Avenue), and wear a face covering at all times, except as directed for the reception of Holy Communion. 

Prior to entry, all visitors must have their temperatures scanned via a non-contact infrared forehead thermometer administered by Basilica personnel outside the East Entrance doors. For the health, safety and welfare of all, any visitors exhibiting symptoms of illness and/or a temperature above 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit will not be permitted to enter the National Shrine. All visitors must sanitize their hands with hand sanitizer provided to them.

Once admitted, visitors must provide their name and phone number for 30-day retention as requested by the District of Columbia Health Department to assist with contact tracing should the National Shrine be made aware of a case of COVID-19.

Once inside the Basilica, visitors must maintain a social distance of 6 feet from others, visit designated areas only, abide by all signage, and follow the direction of National Shrine personnel.

Until further notice, all daily and Sunday Masses will be celebrated in the National Shrine’s Great Upper Church. The Mass schedule has been adjusted to allow ample time for sanitizing between Masses. Daily Masses – Monday through Saturday – will be celebrated at 8 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. Sunday Masses will be celebrated at 9 a.m., noon, 2:30 p.m. (in Spanish), and 4:30 p.m. 

Visitors must be seated in marked pews in order to maintain social distancing. Family seating is available. Holy Communion will be under one species, and visitors must follow the directives of Basilica Ushers and Staff. Immediately following each Mass, attendees must exit the Great Upper Church through the East Side doors as directed. Re-entry will only be allowed through the front lower level East Entrance of the Basilica, following the same entry protocol. 

Confessions will be available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Transept Chapels of the Great Upper Church. There will be no Confessions on Sundays until further notice. Face coverings must be worn at all times during Confession. Penitents will still have the option to confess anonymously or face-to-face.

The Crypt Church will be open for private prayer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Private prayer in the Crypt Church will be limited to 30 minutes to allow others the opportunity to enter and pray. The gift shop and bookstore will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors must wear a face covering and follow social distancing measures in both stores. 

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